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ERIC Number: EJ1064624
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Sep-10
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1938-5978
Credit for What You Know, Not How Long You Sit
LeBlanc, Paul
New England Journal of Higher Education, Sep 2013
Southern New Hampshire University's (SNHU) "College for America" (CfA) made history in April 2013 when it became the first degree program to be approved under the "direct assessment of learning" provisions in Title IV. For the first time, federal financial aid can pay for what students actually learn, not how long they sat in a classroom. CfA's associate degree is based on 120 competencies--"can-do" statements--and students work to demonstrate mastery. Competencies are demonstrated through projects, graded by qualified faculty, and range from basic skills to soft skills, like working in teams or giving and taking instruction, to higher-order critical skills. SNHU designed the program by harnessing the three macro-level forces reshaping higher education today: disaggregation, technology, and a shift from inputs to outcomes. SNHU unpacked faculty roles, using academics to design competencies, curate the learning content, and assess mastery. Instruction and learning support leverages peer-to-peer models, access to expertise present in students' lives, and an assigned advisor. Accountability comes not from deadlines and the grade book, but from each student's "accountability partner," that person who will stay on top of them in conjunction with their advisor, possessing the same backgrounds and skills of advisors across the university. Can competency-based education (CBE) programs work in every field for every kind of student? Only time will tell, but many more such programs are coming. If those who champion CBE models are right about their efficacy, they stand to represent a more dramatic paradigm shift than MOOCs and adaptive learning technology.
New England Board of Higher Education. 45 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111. Tel: 617-357-9620; Fax: 617-338-1577; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Hampshire